“The seed is the word of God” (Lk 8:11).
Jesus expressed in his parable of the sower the ways in which we lose the germination opportunity or coming to bear fruit of the seed that has been sown. The devil “comes and takes away the word from their heart that they may not believe or be saved.” Another way is with those who fixate on mere scientism or empiricism, and so denounce any spiritual or transcendental experience as a coincidence, or dismissed as offering no empirical substance, no proof, thus explaining away any trace of spirit. Others “receive the word with joy but have no root.” Some encounter God, experience a deep emotional connection at the moment but once the emotion wanes, they move onto other pursuits, other experiences. Still, others receive for a time God’s word, come to a place of germination and sprouting, experience new growth but “are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit.”
We still fall prey to each of the above examples Jesus offers in his parable today. Each of them at different times. We are distracted, we are busy, we seek merely accomplishing and moving on to the next activity or item on the list, but if we ever want to experience mature fruit, we must “embrace [the word] with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”
Do we read a book just to finish it, do we go to church just to say we went, do we visit or call relatives, friends, to say we have accomplished our duty, do we go to work or school just to get to Friday? To be fully alive we need to be present in the experience of what we are doing, we need to embrace a deeper experience of what we do, and to do that we need to slow down and breathe. Then maybe we can read to come to understand and put into practice what we may have learned. This is true for good fiction, non-fiction, as well as poetry. This is even truer still when we are reading the Bible. We need to meditate and contemplate upon, not just read a passage, close the cover and move on as if nothing ever happened.
When we go to church, in person or online, may we absorb one or two lessons from a prayer, a hymn, the word, or preaching, that we can take with us, think about and put into practice in the coming week. In this way, when we leave we are not just going but going forth to proclaim the Gospel in our lives. When we communicate and visit with friends and family, may we be more present, and open to their needs, willing to hear their stories, their experiences. May we also be willing to be present to those friends and family we have not yet met and in the past have just walked by or over. In our work, our dedication to school as a student, our entry into retirement, let us resist the attitude of just getting through the day and instead seek meaning in what we do. Let us embrace the joy of the gift of life we have been given.
I invite you to stop, take some deep breathes, and be present and more mindful in your daily activities. Look for the seeds that God has sown, nurture them, be patient with the process of germination and growth, and persevere in your discipline of prayer, worship, service, and relationship to allow good, firm roots to take hold. Soon you will begin to experience the harvest of some beautiful fruit from those seeds God has sown!
Photo: Strawberry picking with Christy in California 2014